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Range Rover Model


In STEAM (Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Maths') the 'A' for 'Art' is a 'nod' towards creativity but little if any creativity exists in STEAM education in schools. Much of it is formulaic and very much convergent in nature. What's really missing is the term 'Design' because Design covers not just creativity but 'purpose'. Many STEAM activities are performed virtually on screen rather than through practical experience. Design Technology in schools has never been so impoverished of time and resources. And yet so much can be taught through designing and making. After all - its what we will will all do for the rest of our lives one way or another whether its making things in wood or organising a holiday or designing social media - its all the same thing. 


  • Identify a need/opportunity

  • Identify a user/client/customer

  • Define the brief/goal target/ outcome

  • Identify existing solutions

  • Decide if action is still necessary

  • Generate ideas

  • Develop some solutions

  • Test and evaluate

  • Plan production/implementation/roll out

  • Implement

  • Evaluate success and start again . . 

And so Design is not just about 'things' - its more authentically about 'people' and their needs.  Architecture literally means ' the making of life'!

In recent times 'Design' came into National Curriculum in both Design technology and later across the whole curriculum in 'PLTS' -  Personal Learning and Thinking Skills'. These strategies are at the heart of Design and focussed on using each subject to solve a need or opportunity. The application of what we learn is central to why we learn it. However, this was short lived and the emphasis became once again about remembering factoids for tests rather than learning strategies for life such as . . design . . democracy . . 

Childhood should be a time of joy and fulfilment - discovering whom we are, how we fit in and how we operate. Learning must be done safely in controlled but real contexts. Learning cannot be 'done' to someone - you can't 'learn' anybody outside of their will without threat. Learning must be done with a sense of wellbeing and opportunity. And so where is the ideal place to teach Design? In a context where children feel happy, free and engaged. Where they have time and the space to explore their ideas, test principles and develop courage.


Just before the millennium a technology became available to schools that revolutionised the ability for children to learn by trial and error - iterative learning'. Laser Cutting. As a head of department I purchased one and it changed everything. No longer did it take days and weeks to make a product but minutes. This gave children the ability not just to make many versions of a design but many copies. Now they could explore designing kits, mechanisms, functioning products beyond furniture etc - and multiples of products, packaged and duplicated, jewellery, packaging, textiles - all having some aspect of state of the art manufacture. Crafts skills are still there but not essential which advantages the creative mind who may never have the skill to make what they can imagine but as every designer does - define what needs to be made for those who will make it.,

My role in life as a Design educator is to raise people to  ask the right questions, learn deeply, challenge assumptions, listen, respect others, be confident in their abilities, aware of their faults and to look positively on need and opportunity. Above all they need to be achievers - not dreamers but capable of making things actually happen. They need to be able to 'change' and adapt, to respond not react, to love others as they love themselves and feel part of the 'solution' in life not the 'problem'.


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